A New York Times Notable Book: Fourteen exquisitely crafted tales of love, betrayal, loss, and renewal among the upper class.
Acclaimed author Roxana Robinson’s collection runs the gamut of emotion, with characters facing shifting family dynamics and moments of personal crisis: marriage and remarriage, the delights and struggles of raising children, the lure of illicit romance, and the bitter acrimony of divorce. Robinson draws her characters—including disaffected stepchildren, seemingly well-meaning in-laws, and adult children coping with aging parents—with compassion and a deep understanding of the heart’s capacity for pain, hope, and growth.
“Second Chances” examines the complications of arranging a Thanksgiving dinner in a family of second marriages, former spouses, and stepchildren, where connections are tenuous at best and spiteful and destructive at worst. In “Graduation,” a woman dreads attending her son’s boarding-school festivities, where she will see the vindictive ex-husband she hasn’t spoken to in years. And another mother finds her own desires threatened by her young daughter’s blossoming independence in “Daughter.”
Through the nuanced experiences of the complex and flawed characters in her debut story collection, Robinson expertly probes the universal complexities of friendship and forgiveness, love and devotion, separation and reunion, echoing the wit and grace of John Cheever, Henry James, and Edith Wharton.
The privileged world of the WASP upper middle class serves as the backdrop for Robinson's subtly powerful tales, many of which focus on dysfunctional families.